International reactions to the 2020 Belarusian presidential election and protests

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The following is list of the official reactions to the 2020 Belarusian presidential election and the surrounding 2020 Belarusian protests.

International reactions to Lukashenko's re-election
  Belarus
  Congratulated Lukashenko
  Did not recognise results
  Expressed criticism over conflict escalation
  No reaction

International organisations[edit]

Not recognising election result[edit]

  • European Union High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell and European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi issued a joint statement. The joint statement condemned the police violence following the election and stating that the EU would monitor further developments.[1] The EU later stated that it would re-evaluate its relationship with Belarus.[2][3] EU foreign ministers at an emergency video meeting on 14 August agreed to bring in new sanctions against Belarusian officials responsible for "violence and falsification".[4] Members of the European Parliament issued a joint statement on 17 August, stating that they did not recognise Alexander Lukashenko as the president of Belarus and considered him a persona non grata in the European Union. The European Parliament also expressed its support for sanctions imposed against Lukashenko and members of his government.[5] On 19 August, following a meeting of heads of government, the European Council issued a statement declaring that "The 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results".[6] In an interview on 22 August, Borrell explicitly stated that the European Union does not recognise Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus in the same manner that it does not recognise Nicolás Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela.[7] Borrell reiterated this position at a meeting of the European Parliament on 15 September 2020.[8] On 17 September 2020, the European Parliament recognised the coordination council as the "interim representation of the people" of Belarus.[9]

Expressing concerns[edit]

Joint multi-national statements[edit]

  • DenmarkEstoniaFinlandIcelandLatviaLithuaniaNorwaySweden The foreign ministers of the Nordic-Baltic Eight (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden) in a joint statement condemned the violence urging for it to end immediately, and stated that they believe the elections were neither free nor fair.[18]
  • EstoniaLatviaLithuania On 15 August 2020, the prime ministers of the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) called on Belarus to conduct new, "free and fair" elections supervised by international monitors.[19]
  • European UnionEstoniaFinlandLatviaPoland The foreign ministers of four EU member states; Estonia, Finland, Latvia, and Poland jointly called for an EU video conference to discuss a united position for the bloc on Belarus.[20]
  • PolandCzech RepublicSlovakiaHungary The Visegrád Four Central European states agreed on 18 August that Europe needs to take a unified and hard line against the Lukashenko regime.[21]
  • LithuaniaPolandUkraine The Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Lublin Triangle (Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine) issued a joint statement expressing deep concern with the escalation of the situation and called upon the authorities to refrain from the use of force and to release all those detained, as well stating their availability for any assistance or good offices in facilitating mediation.[22]

Countries[edit]

Positive reaction to the election[edit]

Countries that criticised the protests[edit]

  • Russia On 14 August 2020, Russian spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova stated that the protests were a result of "outside meddling" from foreign states to "create a rift in society and destabilize the situation".[23] On 15 August, Lukashenko spoke with Putin on the phone. Lukashenko later claimed that "at the first request, Russia will provide comprehensive assistance to ensure the security of Belarus in the event of external military threats".[24]

Countries that congratulated Lukashenko[edit]

Countries with limited recognition that congratulated Lukashenko[edit]

Countries maintaining military cooperation[edit]

The following countries participated in military cooperation with the Belarusian government following the election:[58]

Disregarded congratulations[edit]

Negative reaction to the election[edit]

Countries not accepting election result[edit]

  • Albania Albania, as an EU candidate state, has aligned itself with the European Union position declaring that elections were neither free nor fair and condemning the violence.[62]
  • Austria Austria is bound by the European Council decision on 19 August to condemn the 9 August elections as neither free nor fair, and therefore does not recognise the results.[6]
  • Belgium Belgian Foreign Minister Philippe Goffin released a statement that he "deplores the violent crackdown on peaceful protests following the elections in Belarus. Freedom of expression and free press are fundamental rights for the whole of Europe." He encouraged the Belarusian authorities to release the unjustly arrested citizens immediately.[63] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina The Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to follow the stance of the European Union and have ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to formally not accept the election results in Belarus. Therefore, an earlier stance made by Serb member of the Bosnian Presidency, Milorad Dodik, has been disregarded. The other two members of the presidency, Bosniak Šefik Džaferović and Croat Željko Komšić and Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turković say that this decision is in accordance to the policies of the European Union.[61]
  • Bulgaria Bulgaria is bound by the European Council decision on 19 August to condemn the 9 August elections as neither free nor fair, and therefore does not recognise the results.[6]
  • Canada Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne stated that Canada was "deeply concerned" by the violence following the elections and that authorities' actions had "further eroded the democratic legitimacy of the vote." He called for the results of Sunday's election "to reflect the will of the people."[64] On 17 August, Champagne stated that the Government of Canada does not accept the results of the "fraudulent" presidential election in Belarus and called for new "free and fair" elections.[65][66]
  • Croatia Croatia is bound by the European Council decision on 19 August to condemn the 9 August elections as neither free nor fair, and therefore does not recognise the results.[6]
  • Czech Republic Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš expressed support for Belarusian protesters and along with other Czech MPs called for the elections to be repeated and for the EU to respond strongly.[67][68][69] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • Denmark Denmark, along with the Nordic-Baltic Eight questioned the legitimacy and condemned the violence.[18] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • Estonia The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia criticised the election at a UNSC meeting[70] then stated on 18 August that "The Government of the Republic of Estonia does not recognise the Belarusian election results".[71] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • Finland Finland, along with the Nordic-Baltic Eight questioned the legitimacy and condemned the violence.[18] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • France President Emmanuel Macron told Vladimir Putin that he was very worried about the violence that citizens have faced during the election and the current situation in Belarus.[72] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • Germany German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert declared that the minimum standards for democratic elections were not observed during the vote, that the reports of the opposition about election fraud are credible. He also said that the Belarusian political leadership must accept the will of the people and condemn the use of force against peaceful demonstrators and the arrest of journalists and civil rights activists.[73] German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the European Union to discuss sanctions on Belarus. German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to Vladimir Putin on 18 August saying that the Belarusian government must avoid using force against peaceful protesters, immediately release political prisoners and start a national dialogue.[74] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6] Angela Merkel whilst offering to mediate said "There is no doubt that there were massive rule violations in the election, the election was neither free nor fair. And that's why the result of the election cannot be recognised."[75]
  • Greece Greece is bound by the European Council decision on 19 August to condemn the 9 August elections as neither free nor fair, and therefore does not recognise the results.[6] The Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed the country is in full agreement with the EU statement of 11 August.[76]
  • Hungary Hungary is bound by the European Council decision on 19 August to condemn the 9 August elections as neither free nor fair, and therefore does not recognise the results.
  • Republic of Ireland Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has stated he was "deeply concerned by this disproportionate and unacceptable level of violence against peaceful protesters" and that Ireland would "coordinate her response in collaboration with her colleagues in the EU".[77] Coveney later said that Ireland does not accept the result of the election claimed by the Lukashenko government.[78] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • Italy Italy is bound by the European Council decision on 19 August to condemn the 9 August elections as neither free nor fair, and therefore does not recognise the results.[6]
  • Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, stated that as violence against peaceful protests in Belarus continues and there is a lack of political dialogue, Latvia supports the need to introduce individual sanctions against Belarusian officials responsible for the crackdown on protests and election fraud.[79] Latvia also, along with the Nordic-Baltic Eight questioned the legitimacy and condemned the violence.[18] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • Lithuania Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has stated terms as part of a joint initiative by Lithuania, Latvia and Poland to act as mediators in the crisis: "First, Belarus' authorities stop the use of force against their citizens and de-escalate the situation. Second, Belarus' authorities release detainees, who number in the thousands already, (and) all the protesters who have been subjected to repressions. Third, Belarus resumes dialogue with its civil society."[80] Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was apparently forced to cross the border from Belarus to Lithuania[81] and was reported by Linkevičius as "safe".[64][82] President Nausėda has also spoken with Tsikhanouskaya by telephone to offer his support for the coordination council she has formed to facilitate the transfer of Power in Belarus.[83] On 12 August, Lithuania opened its borders for people fleeing Belarus.[84] The Lithuanian foreign affairs committee voted on 12 August to declare Mr Lukashenko's claim to the presidency as illegitimate.[85] The resolution also called on NATO and EU member states to do the same. It was approved with 120 members votes in favor, none against, and two abstentions.[86] The President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda, reiterated that Lukashenko is no longer the legitimate leader of Belarus on the following day.[87] On 15 August 2020, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius referred to Lukashenko as the "former president" of Belarus.[88] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6] On 20 August, Lithunaian prime minister Saulius Skvernelis, invited Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to his office and publicly referred to her as "the national leader of Belarus.[89] On 10 September, a bill was presented in the Lithuanian Parliament which seeks to recognise Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya as "the elected leader of the people of Belarus" and the Coordination Council as the "only legitimate representatives of the Belarusian people". The resolution also declares that Alexander Lukashenko is an "illegitimate leader".[90]
  • Luxembourg Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called for the election to be repeated in addition to new sanctions, targeting Belarus' top officials, and called the Belarusian government actions state terrorism and a dictatorship.[91][92] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • Netherlands The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs stated: "The Netherlands is concerned about the course of the elections in Belarus last Sunday and its aftermath, especially the harsh police crackdown on peaceful protesters."[93] On 14 August 2020, he stated: "New elections Belarus needed, sanctions not ruled out."[94] on 19 August, Dutch prime Minister Mark Rutte stated that "the Netherlands cannot accept the results of these elections".[95] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • North Macedonia North Macedonia, as an EU candidate state, has aligned itself with the European Union position declaring that elections were neither free nor fair and condemning the violence.[62]
  • Montenegro Montenegro, as an EU candidate state, has aligned itself with the European Union position declaring that elections were neither free nor fair and condemning the violence.[62]
  • Poland Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz condemned the violence, appealed to the Belarusian authorities "to start respecting fundamental human rights" and stated, "the harsh reaction, the use of force against peaceful protesters, and arbitrary arrests are unacceptable".[96] Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has also expressed sympathy for the protesters during talks with EU leaders.[97] Additionally, the Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki called for an emergency meeting of the European Council concerning the situation in Belarus.[98] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • Portugal Portugal is bound by the European Council decision on 19 August to condemn the 9 August elections as neither free nor fair, and therefore does not recognise the results.[6]
  • Romania The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu said he was "very concerned" about the situation of Belarus and that the "only way" was to stop the violence and start a political dialogue. He also urged the country to respect fundamental human rights.[99] The European Council on 19 August decided that "the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results".[6] Up to 200 important figures in the country sent a letter to the President Klaus Iohannis and other government officials to ask them to support civil society and human rights in Belarus. They claimed that Romania should state clearly that it does not support the regime of Lukashenko and that it should cut off diplomatic relations in case the repression of Protestants continued. The letter compared the events with the Romanian Revolution of 1989 and the Romanian protests of 2017–2019.[100]
  • Serbia Serbia, as an EU candidate state, has aligned itself with the European Union position declaring that elections were neither free nor fair and condemning the violence.[62]
  • Slovakia Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Ivan Korčok, labelled the Belarusian government's interventions against its political opponents and citizens peacefully expressing their opinion as unacceptable. The Slovak Republic "appeals to president Lukashenko to abide by the basic principles of democracy and freedom of expression. No one can be persecuted for expressing their views."[101] President Zuzana Čaputová stated: "I condemn the use of force and repressions against people of Belarus freely exercising their freedom of speech and assembly. Fundamental freedoms and human rights must always be respected and protected."[102][103][104] On 10 August 2020, she expressed solidarity with Belarusian people by lighting the Slovak Presidential Palace with red and white lights.[105][106][107] The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • Slovenia At a press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to Slovenia on 13 August 2020, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša expressed his concern over current situation in Belarus and called for new free election under wide international observance. He also stated that Slovenia is gathering support within the EU to increase an international pressure on Belarus. The European Council on 19 August decided that the 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results.[6]
  • Sweden Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ann Linde, expressed concerns over how protesters in Belarus were beaten and arrested. She said that the election in Belarus was neither democratic nor fair and that it follows the same pattern as previous elections in Belarus. She demanded that all arrested protesters be released.[108] On 18 August, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven issed a statement where he condemned "the violence and arrests used against peaceful demonstrators, for which the Belarusian regime and authorities are responsible".[109] Additionally, former Prime Minister Carl Bildt said that Lukashenko's time as president was finished.[110] The European Council on 19 August decided that "[t]he 9 August elections were neither free nor fair, therefore we do not recognise the results."[6]
  • Spain Spain is bound by the European Council decision on 19 August to condemn the 9 August elections as neither free nor fair, and therefore does not recognise the results.[6]
  • United Kingdom The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office initially expressed concern and called for the authorities "to refrain from further acts of violence following the seriously flawed Presidential elections." It acknowledged that there had "been a lack of transparency throughout the electoral process."[111] On 17 August the Foreign Secretary stated that "the UK does not accept the results" and called the election "fraudulent".[112][113]
  • United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a press statement on August 10 declaring that the United States was "deeply concerned" over the conduct of the presidential election in Belarus, stating it was not free and fair. He claimed that "severe restrictions on ballot access for candidates, [the] prohibition of local independent observers at polling stations, intimidation tactics employed against opposition candidates, and the detentions of peaceful protesters and journalists marred the process." He urged the Belarusian government to refrain from using force and called on it to respect the rights of all Belarusians to assemble peacefully. The administration criticized the use of internet shutdowns and detention of opposition supporters and called for those detained to be released.[114] Separately, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany reaffirmed the statements and positions of the Secretary of State regarding the voting process, detentions and protests.[115][116] On 17 August, President Donald Trump called it a "terrible situation" unfolding in Belarus.[117] On 11 September 2020, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun stated that "the people have clearly rejected the regime" and said that the US government would work with European countries in imposing targeted sanctions against Belarus.[118] The United States officially rejected the election results on 24 September.[119]

Countries questioning legitimacy of election[edit]

  • Iceland Iceland, along with the Nordic-Baltic Eight questioned the legitimacy and condemned the violence.[18]
  • Japan The Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry is closely monitoring the situation with concern and urges the authorities of the Republic of Belarus to immediately cease acts of violence and arbitrary detention of participants of peaceful protests, as well as alleged ill-treatment of those who have been detained. Japan strongly calls for a dialogue among a wide range of domestic political groups in Belarus, so that the stability and development of the country can be ensured in a manner which reflects the collective will of the Belarusian people and respects the principles of the rule of law and democracy.[120]
  • Norway The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide condemned the use of force in Belarus: "This use of violence is unacceptable. We call on the Belarusian authorities to release the arrested protesters and journalists immediately."[121] Norway, along with the Nordic-Baltic Eight questioned the legitimacy and condemned the violence.[18]
  • Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine issued a joint statement with Poland and Lithuania.[22] Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine also appealed to Belarusian authorities to release Ukrainian human rights activists and journalists detained in Belarus.[122][123] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed regret at the questionable legitimacy of the official election results and the conflict that followed their announcement. He urged Belarus to refrain from violence and to initiate a wide, open dialogue between the government and the citizens. He also called for the authorities "to adhere to democratic standards universally recognized in the civilized world" and urged them to do their best to ensure that the rights and freedoms of the people are maintained.[124] President Zelensky also stated that "Ukraine extremely interested in democratic and stable Belarus".[125][126] Zelensky also cancelled his planned October state visit to Minsk due to the protests.[127] Ukraine recalled its ambassador from Minsk on 17 August.[128] On 15 September 2020, the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's national parliament) passed a resolution stating that the elections were neither free nor fair and do not represent the will of the Belarusian citizens.[129]

Countries that condemned conflict escalation[edit]

  • Afghanistan voted to condemn the Belarusian government for its crackdowns.[36][37]
  •  Argentina voted to condemn the Belarusian government for its crackdowns.[36][37]
  • Australia Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has expressed concern about the use of force against protesters, the imprisonment of opposition activists and the lack of transparency in the presidential election.[130]
  •  Brazil voted to condemn the Belarusian government for its crackdowns.[36][37]
  •  Bolivia, under the Jeanine Áñez administration, signed a joint letter at the United Nations, condemning the crackdown.[131]
  •  Chile voted to condemn the Belarusian government for its crackdowns.[36][37]
  •  Costa Rica signed a joint letter at the United Nations, condemning the crackdown.[131]
  •  Fiji voted to condemn the Belarusian government for its crackdowns.[36][37]
  •  Ghana signed a joint letter at the United Nations, condemning the crackdown.[131]
  •  Israel signed a joint letter at the United Nations, condemning the crackdown.[131]
  •  Marshall Islands voted to condemn the Belarusian government for its crackdowns.[36][37]
  •  Mexico voted to condemn the Belarusian government for its crackdowns.[36][37]
  •  Micronesia signed a joint letter at the United Nations, condemning the crackdown.[131]
  •  Monaco signed a joint letter at the United Nations, condemning the crackdown.[131]
  •  New Zealand at the UN Human Rights Council said they are "deeply concerned about the deterioration and the human rights situation in Belarus since the presidential election in August."[32]
  •  Peru voted to condemn the Belarusian government for its crackdowns.[36][37]
  •  San Marino was one of the countries to sponsor a UNHRC resolution condemning the conflict.[132]
  •  South Korea voted to condemn the Belarusian government for its crackdowns.[36][37]
  • Switzerland The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland expressed concern over the protests following the election. It urged the Belarusian government to exercise restraint.[133]
  •  Uruguay voted to condemn the Belarusian government for its crackdowns.[36][37]

Criticism within congratulating countries[edit]

International sanctions[edit]

  • European Union EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on 14 August announced that the EU would bring in sanctions against Belarusian officials responsible for "violence and falsification".[4][144] Charles Michel, President of the European Council went further on 19 August saying the EU would soon impose sanctions on a "substantial number" of individuals responsible for violence, repression, and election fraud.[145] The European Commission announced it would divert 53 million euros (£48m) earmarked for Belarus away from the government and towards civil society.[146]
  • International Olympic Committee In December 2020, the International Olympic Committee imposed sanctions on Alexander Lukashenko, Viktor Lukashenko, the Belarusian Olympic Committee (NOC), and all other members of its executive board.[147]
  • Lithuania On 18 August 2020, the Lithuanian parliament agreed to impose economic sanctions.[148]
  • Slovakia On 19 August 2020, the Prime Minister of Slovakia stated that the Government of Slovakia introduced sanctions against Belarus in the new legislative session.[149]

References[edit]

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